In the fifth of an eight-part series on SAVO’s new consulting services, titled AMPs, we discuss guided selling. Many of us would call this a sales playbook that provides prescriptive sales guidance based on specific selling situations. But the term sales playbook is a little overused and misunderstood. Whatever they call it, SAVO has worked with over 200 organizations to bring this type of guidance to life for sellers.
Why guided selling?
Marketing Sherpa tells us that purchasing committees are growing to include eight or more decision makers on over 50% of purchases, which makes selling more complex than in the past. Online communities and the Internet have surpassed all other mediums for providing information to buyers. The B2B purchase cycles have increased, with customers for $1M purchases taking six months or more to reach a decision.
The Corporate Executive Board’s research highlights the traits of the most successful sales people. Post recession, these star performers teach for differentiation, tailor for resonance and assert control. The days of bringing in donuts to entice decision makers to meet in the conference room are gone.
Sales leaders must provide the tools and training to enable sellers to succeed in this complex environment. The problem? Sales and marketing teams are not fond of guidelines, rules and processes. You need to be able to prescribe the right activities and the right tools when needed.
The ABCs of Guided Selling
How do you move all of your sellers to perform like the stars in your organization? I simplify it to just three steps:
- Assess – whether it’s a new product or your core solution, developing a prescription for how the sales team sells must involve a cross-functional team. During this phase, you develop the team and begin gathering success factors of top performers. You will learn things like how to best leverage sales intelligence to improve the conversation with the customer.
- Build – the days of building an inch-thick manual explaining how to sell are a thing of the past. Today, technology can deliver best practices to the seller at the moment they are needed – that is guided selling. As you build your prescription, you have to think about how it will be delivered.
- Commit – isn’t this always the hardest part – making it happen? Remember, a team helped build your plans, so you have champions to drive the organization’s commitment to your goals. From creating buzz early on, piloting the new prescription and always being willing to evolve your selling approach, a solid plan helps ensure you win your sellers’ commitment.
A guided selling plan documents best practices within your organization and uncovers insights into the customer-buying model, resulting in significantly more wins. Identifying top performers’ best practices and formalizing them helps you shift your performance bell curve to increase the number of disciplined, high performers who know exactly how to approach the customer. The alternative? Lots of middle-of-the-pack players who react to each situation randomly and without a plan.
Identifying top performers’ best practices helps shift your performance bell curve to increase the number of highly-successful sales people within your organization.
Creating a guided selling plan encourages you to learn and evaluate how your best salespeople are winning—at each stage of the buying process—so you can use their processes as a model for every team member. Once the whole team knows how to make the top plays, everyone has a chance to win.
SAVO provides an experienced sales enablement consultant to guide an organization through a number of key activities. These activities are specifically designed to identify, collect and apply the tools and experts necessary for enabling a guided selling initiative in a comprehensive, useful manner. They determine what already exists and what needs to be updated and provide an ongoing approach for filling existing knowledge gaps, including messaging and content creation.